Warning culprits face full force of the law after figures reveal abuse and assaults on Hartlepool's fire fighters and brigade staff
Fire brigade chiefs have pledged to prosecute to the “fullest extent” of the law anyone caught abusing firefighters, after a rise in assaults over the past year.
Cleveland Fire Authority heard how from April 2020 to March 2021 there were 52 cases of violence to staff recorded across the region, an increase of 13%, or six incidents, from the previous year.
The authority’s Audit and Governance Committee heard at their latest meeting Hartlepool saw the fewest incidents of abuse to staff, with seven, with Middlesbrough recording the highest, 21.
There were also a total of 11 incidents in Stockton and 13 in Redcar and Cleveland over the past 12 months.
The most common instance of abuse was objects being thrown at firefighters and appliances, which accounted for 24 cases.
Meanwhile there were 17 incidents of verbal abuse, two of physical abuse and nine of physical and verbal abuse.
Ian Hayton, chief fire officer, noted violence to fire brigade staff in the Cleveland area is three times the national average, and pledged they would help prosecute anyone found to be responsible.
He said: “That is not only experienced by the fire and rescue service, it is experienced by our police and our ambulance colleagues as well, and clearly it is something that I know to this authority is completely unacceptable.
“We work with the appropriate agencies to ensure that we prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anybody who either verbally or physically assaults our firefighters in the execution of their duty.”
He added all staff now have the option to wear a body-worn camera to help identify and prosecute culprits if they face abuse.
In total 83% of cases of violence to staff over the past year took place while firefighters were responding to emergency incidents.
The remaining 17% took place while staff were carrying out other activities, such as fire control and prevention work.
Tim Graham, head of risk and performance, said: “Violence to staff doesn’t just happen at emergency response incidents, it happens to any of our staff at any time.”
Mr Hayton said the incidents are “all unacceptable” and they will also be having further talks with police on the issue, who face violence to staff on a “way larger scale” themselves, he added.